Twenty Five years ago, Dr. Brad Swift appeared successful from the outside, with a thriving business, a spacious home, and family and friends who adored him. In the inside, however, he was completely empty - both spiritually and emotionally - ready to end his life.
But then he turned his life around to follow his true calling. Brad, now a bestselling author and coach, left his veterinary practice and devoted himself fully to the life of self-created purpose, which revolves around helping others find and follow their purpose.
Read more about Brad and find out how you can be in alignment with your life purpose in my interview with this dedicated writer, spiritual guide, and online entrepreneur.
1. Hey Brad, what events or revelations led you to leave an established practice as a vet to pursue a career in helping others find their purpose?
Massive burnout and loss of any sense of purpose to my life that lead me to the brink of suicide.
To elaborate just a bit. You see I had wanted to be a veterinarian since I was 7-years old and stayed true to that goal graduating from UGA in 1974. If anyone had asked me during the first 30 or so years of my life about my life purpose – I would have said it was to practice Vet Med. But after 12 years in practice, I found myself at the point I didn't know if I could stand another day in the office. I was frustrated, tired and worn out by the constant stresses of practice that included staffing headaches, client turnover, and financial strains. On top of it all, the stresses at work were having a profoundly negative influence on my personal life. I felt disjointed and disconnected from those I most cared about. My life was out of balance and nearly out of control.
The pain of burnout became so bad that I started abusing alcohol and drugs in an effort to numb myself so I could get through another day. I even contemplated suicide before I finally woke up and realized the practice of veterinary medicine didn't have to be so hard and unrewarding. In fact, life itself didn't need to be nearly so hard. It was at that point I finally sought help, and with that help I turned, not only my practice around, but also my life.
Several years later after what I consider was a significant transformation in my life, I started to look to see what had made such a change possible — I identified three key elements:
I had reclaimed a clearer sense of purpose and meaning in my life.
A key part of that had been working with coaches,
And along the way I reconnected with my spiritual life.
These all came together in various forms over the years including the Life On Purpose Process, Life On Purpose Coaching and of course, Life On Purpose Institute.
2. To what extent is the “Life on Purpose Process” -- as you teach it through your Virtual Video Coach program -- a product of your own search?
Yes, it was a product of my own search. As I outlined above there was a ‘dark night of the soul’ time when I felt without purpose and it was instrumental to starting my own process of searching and finding.
3. Has writing always been vital to purposeful living as you practice and promote it? Has this relationship evolved over the course of your journey and with the development of your coaching business?
Yes, I’d say so, at least for the last 25 or so years. In the process of phasing out of my first career I found I really enjoyed writing. I remember getting up at five or six in the morning so I could write for an hour or two before going to my practice.
As I became clearer about my life purpose, expressing that purpose through writing seemed to be naturally ‘in the beam’ of my life purpose.
4. When did you start producing “visionary writing” -- or when did you start defining it this way -- and how does this concept help you reach a niche of writers and readers?
Good question. I’m not quite sure. I became an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction as an eleven-year-old boy when my next-door neighbor, who was a children's librarian, took pity on my single-parent mom. Bored out of my gourd with no one to play with but good 'ol mom, I drove her crazy until Mrs. Crabtree brought home a stack of books she knew would hook a young boy and give my mom some relief. It worked. I've been hooked ever since, so evolving my own writing to include such genres seemed natural.
I view visionary vision as a good story that entertains while also enlightening and encouraging the reader to live their own life on purpose while a nonfiction book that both enlightens and encourages you in your life while also being entertaining, that’s visionary nonfiction.
I’m not sure how or if it helps me to each a niche of writers and readers. I know it does help me maintain a focus of what I write.
5. How have you been successful at making money online, both in your writing and in your coaching? And, how have you not been successful?
Let me answer this question a little indirectly but in a way I hope will help others.
When Ann and I first started Life On Purpose Institute back in 1996 I couldn’t decide whether it should be a nonprofit or a for profit enterprise. In fact, it started as a nonprofit but it didn’t take long before I realized that I knew even less about how to run a nonprofit than I did a for profit, which is what my veterinary practice had been.
But a pure for profit enterprise just didn’t see to fit either so I invented a third type of business. What I call a vision-directed fiscally responsible enterprise, also referred to as a business on purpose.
Now the US Internal Revenue Service doesn’t recognize this category of business -- least not yet, but it’s helped us tremendously in keep the right perspective. Our primary directing force is our vision -- to be a catalyst for creating a world on purpose -- while at the same time Ann and I both realize that to continue to fulfill on that vision it’s important to stay fiscally and financially responsible. We’ve even divided up our accountabilities in this way, so I’m the Chief Visionary Officer while Ann is our Chief Financial Officer.
I believe this ‘business on purpose’ approach has been foundational to the success we’ve had in both making money and making a difference around the world for over 17 years while doing so from a small village in the North Carolina mountains. Of course, without the internet, I’m not sure that would have been possible.
6. Making the Amazon bestseller list is a huge achievement! What did you learn from your promotional strategy?
It’s been an interesting experiment and one that is far from over. Over the years I’ve realized that I’m a much stronger producer and creator than I am a marketer. It’s just how this particular human being unit was designed. So I’ve had to focus some of my creative energy to becoming a decent marketer which has included a lot from other more successful one like Tom Corson-Knowles whose Kindle marketing strategies I followed to become an Amazon bestseller. You can read more about it here.
7. Do you think that the systems you’ve developed from your own experience can work for anyone? How does Virtual Video Coach respond to the different needs of your clients? That is, what is the specific value of working through video?
The Virtual Video Coach is one of the most effective and cost effective ways people can experience the Life On Purpose Process. It’s great for many people, maybe even most especially when it’s used in combination with some individual coaching as available in the Premium option.
I believe this is true because much of the foundational content of the LOP Process can be learned through the virtual video coaching and at the clients own pace and on their own schedule. Then the personal coaching is where their individual questions and needs can be addressed.
8. What are 3 things that you do (that we could all do) everyday to cultivate purpose?
In response to this question I would encourage people to purposefully play with the Big 3 Power Tools for Living On Purpose. While we now have 14-15 different power tools, these are the 3 I recommend my clients starting with and becoming proficient in using.
Brad Swift is a bestselling author and coach. Brad established the Life on Purpose Institute to provide a variety of inspirational content, from mentoring, blog posts, to multimedia coaching programs. You can also find him on Twitter at @BradOnPurpose